Baby Steps to Whole Health

…steady is as steady goes.

On Empathizing Loss

Friends, today my grandmother passed away. And while I am sorrowful for my own loss, my deepest, saddest sorrow comes from knowing that today, my mom lost her mom.
A few days ago, I called my mom. I called her because I was entering new parenting territory, and I needed to know how she did things when I was younger, so I could determine how I would do things for my kids now.
“I’m texting because Easter is almost here and now we have a teenager who knows the Easter Bunny isn’t real. What should I do? When did you stop hiding our baskets? What did you put in them when we were too old for bubbles and chalk? Just candy? ” I asked.
Her response? “I stopped hiding baskets when you moved out. You can get him a sketch pad or some sunglasses, anything really. Just something.”
Now, while I do have a great immune system, I do not have an amazing memory. Can you believe I had to ask my mom what to put in my teenager’s Easter basket?! Can you believe she hid baskets until I moved out?!
Anyway, all that aside, even knowing my mom doesn’t need her mom for teenaged parenting advice anymore, I’m still just SO SAD that my mom doesn’t have a mom living on earth anymore. No mom to call and say, “Hey, I’m frustrated and having a bad day,” and receiving unconditional support and encouragement through the phone lines.  No mom to call and share accomplishments with – my own or my children’s. No mom to just call up to make feel special, to say, “Hey, I was just thinking of you…” The mom who listens to your sorrows and your joys, who gives you good advice and loves you even when you fail to take it; who sees your need and does her best to fill it; the mom who sacrificed in her own way to provide for you, who continues to sacrifice in the hopes of leaving you a legacy…
I cannot even imagine, nor do I want to, the day that the thought
of a phone call crosses my mind, yet it’s no longer an option. I am so very, very sad for the loss of my grandma, but mostly, I’m heartbroken for my mom and her sisters.
May you hold on to the good memories and the good advice of your mothers – biological, adoptive, surrogate or otherwise, friends; and if you haven’t yet suffered the loss of your own mom, may you grow in empathy for those who have.


The Sugar-pocalypse

Hello again friends. Almost TWO WEEKS since I last posted, and I truly have it in my heart to do so more often – I thought once a week would be easy and fair. Not so! We had Halloween, so we spent the week leading up to it planning and making costumes – my kiddos looked awesome, of course! Not that I’m not biased just a little, but we did go to a Halloween party and we ALL won prizes in regards to our costumes – even the hubs and myself!

As Halloween leads up to more holidays, this year I find myself absolutely dreading the sugary whirlwind ahead – Halloween was bad enough, but soon there will be Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years and Valentines! I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that flu season runs from October through February, do you?

I’m not scientific, but I can read an article, or 700 articles, and understand that sugar is horrible for your body. It is poison and is killing the population off quite well. Diabetes, heart disease, and  obesity are all on the rise, and despite various ‘research’ analysis that claimed back in the 80s that it was high consumption of fat, saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, or whatever else, that was causing these diseases, somehow consuming foods that had less didn’t make a difference in the health of the population, and actually, continue even now to get worse!! It’s no wonder that in 1900 only 5% of the world’s population had high blood pressure, and now, 33% of the population has high blood pressure. In the early 1900s, the average person consumed about 47 pounds of sugar annually, and now, we each consume 77 pounds every year – and that number isn’t shrinking! I got the numbers for this post from this National Geographic article on sugar. (Fantastic read, by the way – interesting history of sugar and slaves and health.)

Sugar consumption has been shown (for a LONG time!) to weaken the immune system for up to 5 hours after ingestion – so you go to all those holiday parties, indulge in the sugary decadence of marshmallow sweet potato souffle and Christmas cookies, and weaken your immune system as you share breath and shake hands.

I’m not capable of relaying in any sort of orderly manner the symbiotic relationship of food and our bodies. What I can say is that your kidneys excrete magnesium to process sugar in your body, and if you don’t have enough, it will pull this nutrient from your teeth and bones to do the job.  Chronic low magnesium state has been associated with a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis. Any wonder that sugar consumption has been indicted in tooth decay, as well?? Not just because it turns your mouth into a breeding ground for bad bacteria, but also because if you aren’t eating enough magnesium containing foods (trust me – most people aren’t), and you’re filling up on sugar (in ANY form – raw, refined, honey, high fructose corn syrup), your body still has to process it.

I told you in one of my first posts about our no cereal challenge and how I had decided afterward that I wouldn’t be purchasing cereal anymore. And now I spend too much time considering how to help my children understand and choose to consume less sugar without me having to constantly say no. I don’t want to say no, I just want them to stop asking. Seriously. It’s a very difficult balance in that we’re behind the times and just learning how horrible sugar is, and all of the negative effects if has on your body AND your mind (brain fog, anyone? Sugar.) The kids have grown up for the most part eating the standard American diet, and they’re aren’t up for changing everything over-night. I’ve met resistance in all things food related, but I desperately want my husband, my children, and myself to be physically healthy. I have the facts, now I have to act. And it’s work. But anything worth doing is worth doing right, right?

Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, hypertension, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, weakened immune system, tooth decay. All diseases that can be traced back to a high rate of sugar consumption. Yet we keep feeding the addictive beast. It’s not like it’s easy to avoid – even if you avoid simply adding it to your every day food items, it is IN. EVERYTHING. Even unsuspecting things like bread. And peanut butter. And jelly (which used to be just boiled fruit with gelatin…) Your average peanut butter and jelly sandwich (classic kid fare, right?) has more than 22 grams of sugar – that’s 5 1/2 teaspoons of sugar – in just the sandwich! Is it any wonder that we’re over sugared, addicted, and sick?

Do you do anything to lower sugar consumption in your household? What are some of your favorite non-sugar sweet treats?



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New Thinking

As we strive for whole health in all areas, it’s easy to get swept up in focusing all of our energy on one area. This past week, while I’ve tried to maintain balance, a lot of my mental energy has been put into thoughts of food. More specifically, ethically farmed and organically grown food. It’s a lot, I know. You know it’s because I’m reading the book “The Way We Eat – Why Our Food Choices Matter”, by Peter Singer. It’s very much affecting me as I finally get a clear picture of the actual cost of cheap meat and dairy. Not just the financial cost to myself, but the economical and lifestyle impact of towns and people and the environment. And animals, as well. Did you know they breed turkeys to have breasts SO LARGE that they are physically incapable of mating? Yeah, the male turkeys have to have their semen sucked out of them, and the lady turkeys get their legs pulled apart and their vents opened up, then the semen is shot up inside of them with a pressurized syringe. You know when you get your eyes checked and they blow that little poof of air at your eyes, and they have to try it like seventeen times because it’s so irritating? The pressure they use to inject the semen is so much more than that, and we’re doing it so we can have large breasted turkey for dinner. It’s not just an animal ethics issue though. The environmental impact of factory farming is greater than I had ever even thought about. To be honest, I didn’t think about it. I went to the grocery store, bought the most meat I could afford for the least damage to my bank account. That’s what most of us do, right? It didn’t matter before, because I didn’t know. But now I know, and I can’t continue to eat that way. I cannot even purchase a single meat or dairy product without thinking of the inhumane treatment of those animals, and how it was done to line someone’s pockets and save me a little money. Well, no more, because I am convicted and angry I’ve bought into the lie for so long.

As I’ve read this book, Proverbs 12:10 continued to come to mind, “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” The accounts of this man and his team visiting various farms, the excuses of the operators of the farms (if you could even call them that), can only be called cruel.
Consider also 1 Timothy 6:7-11. “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” Again, I consider the accounts of this man, and there’s absolutely no sign of godliness or gentleness. And it goes back to corporations, wanting more money, so they squeeze animals into spaces so small they can’t even turn around, they kill animals before they’re completely stunned (yes, gruesome accounts of the deaths of these animals), they carry chickens FIVE to a hand by their feet, and farm employees drop-kick them for fun – let’s not even get into what feeling free to abuse animals does to the human psyche! Cows spend their lives eating genetically modified corn, standing in fields covered in manure, with no grass to eat; they are injected with growth hormones and antibiotics so the almighty corporation can get more meat from one cow (more meat, more money). Looking back to my Bible, the love of money truly is the root of all sorts of evil. And I can’t support it.

Next on going back to my Bible, I consider the story of Daniel. The king of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and took some of the men, Daniel and his friends among them. The men were to be trained up in the language and literature of the Babylonians, and after three years were to enter into the king’s service. Each man was to receive a ration of food and wine from the king’s table. Daniel knew that the meat at the table would be meat that had been sacrificed to Babylonian gods, and he would be defiling himself and his relationship with God if he ate it. He asked the official if he and his friends could eat only vegetables and water, and avoid the meat. The official was wary, but Daniel convinced him to give it a ten day trial, and if at the end of that time, Daniel and his friends looked any worse off, they would willingly eat the royal food. Come to the end of the trial, Daniel and his 3 friends looked better, were stronger and healthier than the other young men. The officials took the royal food away from everyone and they all had to eat just vegetables and water. The take away from this for me at this time, is not that we should only eat vegetables and drink water. It’s not that we should stop eating meat altogether, either, as God provided us with animals and plants for nourishment.
The take away for me is that I cannot, in good conscience, eat meat that has been sacrificed to other gods, more specifically, the god of money.
So where do I go from here? I have some kids that are pretty set in their eating ways, and 13 year old boys aren’t too into eating vegetables, even though they’re already on the menu every night. I can’t just go out and spend massive amounts of money on grass-fed, humanely raised meat and dairy products (I’ll get into organics another day…), as it’s been said – our food budget is already high (almost a quarter of our income!), and there simply isn’t room to make it larger.
I spoke to my husband about my convictions, and though he had never considered our purchasing of cheap meat as a sacrifice to idols, upon hearing all of it, he surprisingly (yes, a very big surprise to me!) agrees. He has been planning on getting a hunting license for quite some time now, and this has helped to push him through. If we hunt, the meat we eat has been provided by and cared for by God. Our plan, for now, as we baby step into eating for whole health (this isn’t just a body thing, it’s become a spirit thing now), is for us to only eat humanely raised, pasture fed and finished meat, be it purchased or hunted. This means we will be eating a lot less meat for the foreseeable future, until we figure out a new budget and more plant based main dish menu. Meat will likely be a small side, or enjoyed only a couple of times a week.
Is your diet based around meat as a main dish? What are your favorite vegetable main recipes?

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